WORLD OF MOUTH

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INTERNATIONAL Vision Expo recently hosted an Event Marketing Summit where the above term was coined. The idea behind it? That the social media space is now so prolific and so engaging it is fast becoming the dominant way in which we get information—essentially from each other.

Here’s another amazing pearl from the summit: It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users; television required 13 years; Facebook needed just nine months, and actually connected with 100 million users in that time. Wow!

The implications of this for just about every aspect of our culture are numerous. Relative to media, the model of the information provider—content driven by a small group of “insiders” to a mass audience—is (almost) completely out the window. Now, bloggers and posters, effectively amateurs in the world of information gathering, are out-scooping major media bastions, forcing them to pay attention to the upstarts.

Today, Facebook connects over 400 million people and they’re sharing information like never before. When people have a question or an information need, they simply put a post on their Facebook page, or some other interactive site, and they get answers. Fast.

Want to find out how people feel about a movie or book? Just go to Amazon.com or movies.com and read reviews by the site fans. No longer are we beholden to that Ivory Tower critic or “expert” to tell us where to go, what to see, what to buy, or where to eat. Everyone is now a critic if they choose to be.

Marketers have finally caught on to this phenomenon and they are trying to take part, which is why every business from “Jim’s Extra-Good Bagel Chips” to “Evergood Caskets” has a Facebook page. But what many companies fail to realize is that social networking is not about them, it’s about the users. Therefore, you cannot control the conversation, you can only participate in it (and hope you don’t get bonked on the head along the way).

Optical should engage in this new communications forum for a number of reasons, and the primary one is that ours is a profession/industry built on referrals. And where will current and future patients be going for those referrals?
Everyone in business needs to explore this space. Like so many technological changes, if you don’t keep up, it may just roll you.

(Participate in our Facebook page at facebook.com/totallyoptical. We try to offer unique content from a number of different sources—not just our pubs—several times a week.)

email me at fg@visioncareproducts.com

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